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U17 Boys ISSO Football

“No” was the answer we received when we asked about ISSO. We were told that we didn't have enough time to prepare and a scarcity of players. Our team captain, Aarez Zaidi said– “Ultimately, we found the players, but some of them had never kicked a ball in their life, however, their excitement and eagerness to represent the school football team was what compelled me to sign them up for the tournament.” After days of back and forth with the teachers and coaches, we were finally given the opportunity to attend the biggest inter school tournament in India: the ISSO, held at Jayshree Periwal International School in Jaipur. Immediately, training began. We were training every morning, playing practice matches against other teams to prepare. The early morning practices were brutal and tough, still, we were determined to wake up everyday and train because we knew it was necessary.

Finally, the day came to depart Ascend and leave for Jaipur. We were ecstatic to finally be going for ISSO, a tournament we had heard so much about. Prior to boarding the flight, we were able to interact with the team, which we knew was crucial for building team chemistry. We landed in Jaipur and for most of us what seemed to be a seamless and routine flight, to a couple players it was an exhausting and gruelling experience, as two players had begun developing symptoms of a viral fever and this wasn’t a good sign at all since they were both crucial parts of the team. We then spoke as a team, and were reminded that we were here to play football, and that requires the utmost focus.

The following day we were awake early, and ready to win. However, the two players that were feeling unwell in the journey to Jaipur were in even more discomfort than before. After consideration, they decided to power through their sickness and join us in our first match vs Fountainhead, arguably the strongest team in our group. Ascend had a bright start to the game and we were starting to get a feel of the pitch. At one point, we were scrambling to get the ball but the opponent striker got to it and scored, making it 0-1. We found ourselves on the backfoot as the referee awarded Fountainhead a penalty. A brilliant save from the Ascend Goalkeeper, Dheer Jain prevented them from scoring from the penalty spot, but they shot again on the rebound and we found ourselves trailing 0-2. The team was gutted. The scorching heat didn’t help, and a lot of us found ourselves exhausted. The game ended with Fountainhead scoring one more, ending in a 3-0 defeat for Ascend in the first game, and we were demoralized. But soon we were reminded that we had another match that same day against Singapore International School (SIS).

The experience of representing your school in the biggest international-inter school tournament is one to remember and I’m sure each and every player on the team has something they can take away from this experience. One thing all of us realised is that with such little practice and preparation, we were able to achieve a mammoth amount of progress, and if we have more opportunities to train and play, we have the potential to achieve big things for the school!

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